Error 0x00FC: Too Many Passwords

I’m really beginning to tire of keeping up with the 50 or so different usernames and passwords required to access the various web sites and software packages I use. It seems that every site nowadays requires a login to access even the most insignificant content. Sadly, services such as BugMeNot have provided little relief for this growing annoyance.

What complicates this problem is the advice given by the majority of online security specialists:

  • Never use the same username/password combination on more than one site.
  • Change your passwords often.
  • Make your passwords as complex as you can by adding numbers and symbols.
  • Never keep your usernames/passwords written on paper or a digital document

Dilbert-20050910Yeah.

So in order for me to protect myself as fully as possible, I need to keep track of 50+ different sets of obfuscated credentials for 50+ different sites without the luxury of writing them down anywhere, and then change them at least once a month!?

“So Kody,” you may ask, “why don’t you just use one of the many AutoFill tools freely available from various web browsers and toolbars?” My answer is simple: Lack of mobility. What happens when I am using a public terminal or a computer in a lab or at a friend’s house? By relying on AutoFill tools at home, my ability to remember my credentials while away from my computer would atrophy.

And what happens when I let someone else use my computer to look something up? I never check any of those boxes that say, “Always keep me logged in” or “Remember my password,” so why would I want AutoFill software to automatically insert my personal information into a web form regardless of the user? [See comments below for an explanation on why this was scratched. –km]

As more and more sites require verification, the deep wisdom of Microsoft’s Passport service is becoming all too clear. I’ll admit I was wary of Passport in the beginning, given all the privacy concerns of entrusting access to multiple websites to a single entity (especially when that entity is Microsoft). However, I am finding it more and more tempting to embrace such a service if it means that I don’t have to keep track of dozens of username/password combinations.

Unfortunately, even if I wanted to take advantage of Microsoft’s Passport, it’s not supported on 99% of the sites I would need it for. Even more unfortunate, no other comparable service exists. I’m starting to think that the web is in dire need of a universal credential service with the stigmas associated with Microsoft’s “we want to own everything” corporate image.

So how do intelligent people manage their login information without resorting to the practices of the overtly paranoid? Am I just missing something here? I know there are various password management services available online and for PDAs, but are they actually useful?

I don’t know. Maybe this is just another incentive to do away with usernames and passwords altogether in favor of biometric identification. All I know is that if things don’t improve soon, I may have to resort to shoving a few 1GB sticks of RAM up my nose and hope it’s compatible.

3 thoughts on “Error 0x00FC: Too Many Passwords

  1. d

    basic solution for home Autofill delima(sp?). LOG OFF your computer!! If, in fact, you actually let random people, who you have no trust in to keep your privacy, use your precious and valuable computer you should get into the habit of logging off of your username. Many, if not all, of these autofill applications work through windows and therefore are only activated if you are logged on to your own personal username.

    Now, this brings me to another point. If you do not trust these “so-called” people you say use your computer, what is to keep them from loading a virus while they are “looking something up”? Or, for that matter, what if they are accessing illegal sites or some kind of terrorist information. Next thing you know the CIA is knocking at your door asking questions and taking you to jail. Probably due to the fact that by this point you have succeeded in lodging enough RAM to run a small terroists LAN party up your nose. Of course, then they wonder, “if you had no other place than your nose to place things, where else must you have tried to put things?” Thus, you are stuck dealing with the ER people while you wait 5 hours to get X-Ray’s.

    And to think, all of this could have been avoided had you simply used an Autofill application. What a shame.

    So the moral is….Log Off or end up in the Emergency Room. It’s your choice. Flip a coin or something.

    Peace

  2. Kody

    Quote:

    And what happens when I let someone else use my computer to look something up? I never check any of those boxes that say, “Always keep me logged in” or “Remember my password,” so why would I want AutoFill software to automatically insert my personal information into a web form regardless of the user?

    Now that I’ve read your comment, and gotten some needed rest, I realize how incredibly illogical this paragraph sounds. I’d scrap it alltogether if it didn’t alienate your comment. Regardless, you have some excellent advice for anyone who has a computer in a location where it could be accessed by untrusted individuals (which is effectively anywhere). Logging off your computer does indeed resolve the problem of having another person gain access to sensitive personal information.

    Personally, I make it a policy not to allow anyone other than my most trusted friends and family to use any of my computers without supervision. Additionally, they are to have the most limited access possible.

    Windows XP has a nice Guest Account feature for this exact purpose – granting users just enough access to get their business done without compromising the system. Since the Guest Account does not pull AutoFill information out of other accounts on the machine, personal details can remain secure provided that all priveledged accounts are logged out and password-protected.

    Security issues, though important in their own right, are not the main reason I find AutoFill tools useless. My biggest gripe is that they are not portable. They are restricted to individual machines and provide no way of synchronizing information between multiple systems. What good does AutoFill do me when I am at a computer that is not my own? If I were stuck at a public terminal, unable remember any of my usernames/passwords kept by AutoFill on my computer at home, I’d be dead in the water.

  3. Austin

    Lol gig chips are expensive…i would definately use maybe 64mb or 128mb to make sure it works :P haha

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